Five questions web developers should ask before they accept a new job.

If you can think of a problem, chances are that someone online is starting to tackle that problem and someone online somewhere else has progressed further towards a solution. Entrepreneur magazine, for example, has listed ten startup businesses that are revolutionising the way we interact with the internet, to include the production of an app that even reads people’s facial expressions as they consume content.

The future is here and to the 21ST Century millennial web development, app creation, digital data analysis and blue-sky idea hackathons are the new rock’n’roll. These processes and people are changing the world and we all want to be a part of it, but – to paraphrase Confucius – even the mightiest terabyte must start with a single bit. Unless you’re a genius working in your bedroom you’ll be looking to start with a company at some point, or you might be an experienced coder or developer, but either way you’ll have queries of your own.

In interview a web developer will face certain questions such as these examples from Glassdoor, before having a chance to pose theirs. Here are five of the most important.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current team, and what is the number of employees?

Establishing the structure of the team and its key components should be an early priority. The next should be determining exactly what part of the team you’ll be joining, in terms of the breakdown between design and development. Are these two factors seen as equally important, or does one discipline take precedent?

You’ll want to know which programming languages and which skill sets are at a premium in the internal make-up, and then you’ll need to consider where you would fit in, and the content management system that would be utilised. And if there are several answers that leave room for manoeuvre your next question should be…

What software is available within the team? Are we able to use a personal preference?

A web developer should be able to ascertain software used by the company by looking at previous or recent projects, and the interviewers should know of the interviewee’s preferences and skills from their CV and/or portfolio. Therefore, the interview should at least touch on the relationship between expectations.

A further question might regard usage of version control or collaboration software, and if this is not utilised, why not? Efficient management and cataloguing of code within a team should be one of the priorities, and if there is little evidence of this then it might be time to think again.

What is the company’s structure and vision for the team in the future? 

This might require a wide-ranging answer than purely concentrating on web development, bringing in finance, company objectives, new projects and strategies.

Not everyone can work at companies such as Apple, Buzzfeed or Compare The Market but any evidence of a vibrant, exciting future is surely a bonus.

The answers you receive might then translate to further enquiry regarding the team you are considering. Any changes to overall company direction might indicate a clear progression for growth and a possible expansion for the web development/design team in the future. Find out.

Is there a personal training budget? If so, can this be used on lectures, workshops, or conferences?

Any company worth its salt should have a training budget in place, but there may be different constraints on spending powers. The question is: ‘Am I able to choose what my training budget is spent on or does the business choose what new skills I should learn?’

Am I able to choose my own hours or work remotely? 

Many developers work best in their own space and at their own time. The 9-5 lifestyle is dying out in many areas of the working life, as is the office-rooted culture. Establishing the boundaries for your working life is important and sometimes working from home, or in the early hours, will appeal.

In addition, find out if you can borrow equipment to take home, and will you have access to certain passwords for remote access? If not, sound the warning bells.


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